Skip to main content

Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

See other formats

WILLIAM  VO2S"  HTTMBOLBT.                    337
and insipid.     Even Zoega, who  certainly has exten-
sive  views, is   wanting in lively interest.    He  is   a
universal  indifferentist  and sceptic ; and though his
erudition   is   not  injured   thereby,   his   conversation
loses  its  charm.    You would be interested in seeing
Zoega.    My brother even remarked that his society
is not at all conducive to excite the productive facul-
ties, but rather the contrary.    You know," continues
Hurnboldt,    £C that   Spalding   (the   phflologian  from
Berlin) is here.     But I have not enjoyed his society
as much as I might have done.    I find, indeed, that
he has became more   spiritless,   and   can   speak   of
nothing now but of long and short syllables., and of
etymologies.    He was entirely occupied here with his
whole family, wife, son, &c.    Would you believe that
during his visit of six weeks to Rome, I once  found
him, at noon, playing cards en- famille.    He did our
nation  little honour.    Every one  acknowledged Ms
good nature ; but his pedantry, his rage to make bad
verses in all languages,   and  his   shallowness,   have
alternately  surprised and  disgusted Zoega,  Marina,
.and all the better class.    Imagine only that here, in
the   Corsinian   Library,    he   copied   thirty  to  forty
Homeric—genuine Homeric—verses out of the Iliad,
which were only not placed in their proper place as
view ones, that he related his discovery to all, and
pretended  to  have  found barbaric words,   such as
xeTrero^j, in them, nor would^ he let Zoega convince
Mm o^his error till some days later.    If he had only
not boasted of all this so, and to me 1    He has made
innumerable verses, and always German and Latin at
the same time, and sometimes Greek also, but he will
.certainly not have profited in the least by his journey.
He  searched   for  Quintilian  everywhere,  and  then
scarcely looked at it.    You will feel, my friend, that
tliis impression of a German scholar needs to be wiped
"I know of no news to tell you. Here a new
book is written about twice in ten years, and the
remainder of the time it is talked o£ You know what